It was with mixed emotions I left my last meeting with TRILLION RED. While I liked what I heard I wasn’t too sure how to react to it. But with that experience in my bag it is with greater ease that I take on this record by the band. Now I know what to expect and how to react to it. I have never been that fond of EPs. I’ve bought them out of duty to the bands but they’ve ended up in my collection quicker than you can say EP. Don’t know where I’ll put this EP by TRILLION RED. I honestly don’t know what to make of this. I get an industrial feel to it that I like but I don’t know where to put this genre wise. Or even how to behave in its company. Is this a in between record that should be taken as a sort of experiment or is it the way the next album will go in? What I do know is that this takes some time getting used to. Anders Ekdahl
I used to be down with most of the Baltic underground scene in the 90s/early 00s but lately I’ve seen to have lost touch with it. Which makes this Lithuanian band such a relief. Now I’ll get to rediscover one of the scenes in the Baltic all over again. This is as quirky as I kinda expected it to be. If you like your black metal orthodox then this won’t be the band for you. But if you like your black metal to take unexpected twists and turns on its way from A to B then you might enjoy this trip. I can be as adventurous as the next guy but at times it is too much even for me. UVIKRA are borderline what I can take as it twists and turns a bit too much for me to fully follow it. It kinda reminds of an older Baltic band that kinda moves in the same pattern as this. I had a hard time with that band too as I have a hard time with this. Anders Ekdahl
Brazilian metal isn’t just the shy of light kind. There is also a very vibrant heavy metal scene going on proven by bands like VANDROYA. If you have trouble with your metal being fronted by a lady you should crawl back under the rock you came from you caveman. For all those of us that haven’t gotten those issues this will be a treat for sore ears. I have no problems understanding where this band comes from. I can hear Helloween mixed with some more traditional power metal. After having been subjected to a whole load of strange black metal this is like a catharsis for my metal soul. No need to be on my toes trying to figure out what goes on and where it is going next. Just plain power/speed metal that you just have to enjoy and not think too much about. Anders Ekdahl
(Hell Comes Home)
Don’t know what to make of this. This is a box of goodies (or so I’m told) that collects 12 seven inch singles from various artists. And they seem to be all split 7”’s too which means 24 artists to keep track of. And most seem to move in the death/doom field too while the rest move in very different circles. Not being familiar with any of the artists this might be my worst nightmare or it will give me nightmares because I’m too late in purchasing the box. Any which way I’ll have to dig in. Having listened through all 24 artist’s songs I can say that this is a very eclectic collection of songs from a very eclectic bunch of artist, of whom I had not heard of before. Some are better than others but none really stood out more than the other. All I can say is that this is one collection that I wouldn’t mind owing but I guess it is already sold out. But do try to look for it. It is worth the hunt. Anders Ekdahl
Soilwork – “The Living Infinite” 2CD (Nuclear Blast)
These guys have been going since the mid 90s and were influenced by the likes of extreme metal bands like Meshuggah along with the now legendary Gothenburg melodic death scene. In many ways Soilwork themselves went on to inspire many a metal core band but they were destined for a somewhat different path. “The Living Infinite” is quite possibly the band’s most ambitious project to date being a double album made up of 20 tracks no less! What is even more striking is the sheer range of other styles that today make up Soilwork’s sound: from mainstream metal with keyboard harmonies to commercial rock to alt rock (with Justin Sullivan of New Model Army guesting on ‘The Windswept Mercy’) to even old school metal complete with epic finishes. Nevertheless, at its heart Soilwork still remains almost melancholic, driven by twin guitar melodies and a propelling rhythm fueled by a dark energy that can be savagely unleashed at any time on songs like ‘Drowning With Silence’ and ‘Let The First Wave Rise’. With Speed Strid’s vocals also taking a range from scream to raw to clean and a ‘big’ sound production, “The Living Infinite” goes beyond that of another impressive Soilwork release to striving for generic metal perfection!
Heavatar – “Opus I – All My Kingdoms” (Napalm Records)
The brainchild of Van Canto mastermind Stefan Schmidt, who now exchanges his ‘A Capella’ vocals for a 7 string rhythm guitar, Heavatar is modern power metal mixed with the best of the classical composers ranging from Bach to Beethoven! Epic choirs, clean vocals and most of all, cool funky classical interludes in the melodies and guitar work will have you rockin n rolling to catchy songs like ‘Abracadabra’, ‘Born To Fly’ and the ripping Manowar like ‘To The Metal’. Whilst this won’t be breaking any power metal records I’m certainly impressed by the way Schmidt has carefully weaved (not to mention impressively played) the classical elements – most of which I’ve heard even if I can’t name them lol – into the material to make this highly enjoyable especially for those of us who don’t listen to classical music. For those who are, I hope they can appreciate this an admirable effort in mixing the old with the new.
Hellbastard – “Sons Of Bitches” (Selfmadegod Records)
Hellbastard were a product of Margaret Thatcher’s Britain (not that we should be grateful to her for that lol!): with heavy industry in terminal decline, 3 million people unemployed and little hope for young people except welfare there was real anarchy in the air. Rather than dying as expected by the elite, punk had evolved from its fashionable roots in the 70s to spearhead a new movement based on class war, militant social struggle and overt political action by the underclass. Wallowing in their impoverishment, embracing bitterness and reveling in social disorder a new breed of crust punk proudly trod the streets of their land unwashed, raggedy and brimming with hate. Bands like Crass and Amebix were their standard bearers, but so too was the influence in the bastard child of metal known as thrash. And so Hellbastard was born. Utterly raw in every sense, Hellbastard were like a good kick in a yuppy’s nutz – raw, hoarse vocals, ugly thrash riffola and riot squad drumming said it all back then and still do on songs like the raging ‘System Whore’ and the wall of noise ‘We Had Evidence’. These days Scruff & co are more technical with more Slayer-esque lead breaks and – gaspo – even time for a reggae piece in ‘Throw The Petrol Bomb’ but their militancy remains. Hellbastard are the real anarchists and are still out to mash up Babylon mate.
Jolly – “The Audio Guide To Happiness (Part II)” (InsideOut Music)
Conceptually more of a scientific experiment than a musical one, these New Yorkers combined the art of musical production with sociological and neurological data, packaging it all into one cohesive system to create happiness as affected directly by the music! Released in 4 parts, the debut was equally a musical experiment drawing from an extensive range of styles and sounds that was certainly awe inspiring, if not inconclusive in its human goal especially when compared to more primitive bands who achieved happiness to the max lol. Part II of this grand experiment is altogether more straight forward, in the main modern technical rock as defined by songs like ‘Despite The Shell’ or the bombastic bass heavy djent of the likes of ‘Firewell’. Elsewhere there are ambient pieces that draw on tranquil vocals, delicate electronics and subtle prog melodies as on ‘As Heard On Tape’. Overall I think the technical sophistication and musical dexterity is still there, but Part II is an altogether more refined therapy aimed more accurately at the listener, and an inexperienced one at that, and that for me is pleasant enough as a quiet revolution.
My Endless Wishes – “My Endless Wishes” (Doolittle Group)
Created by a happily married couple in Frida and Martin Viberg – the mainstays of the band – MEW follow in the footsteps of other femme melodic metal bands like Within Temptation and Evanescence, covering a range of styles from epic to indie metal to mainstream rock all of which they seem to handle with relative ease! A part time project, there’s a definite home style feel to the band with songs like ‘Before I Say Goodbye’, ‘Searching For A Hero’ and ‘Follow The Light’ reflecting an unpretentious, unhurried feel but instead yielding huge amounts of passion and power melodies especially in Frida’s excellent voice which bring out the lyrics that are truly sung from the heart. MEW have now incorporated others into their band which judging by the smoothness of their musicianship appear to have reflected their organic growth that is once again based on friendship and love of the music rather than commercial gain so I have nothing but praise by how well this album turned out given their DIY approach.
Illnath – “4 Shades Of Me” (Pitch Black Records)
These Danes have been thru many changes since they were formed in 1999 as a kinda symphonic black metal band. Today only founder guitarist Peter Falk remains, and now joined by a female aggro vocalist in Mona Beck play aggressive modern metal with death vocals – deffo plenty of headbanging here folks! Heavy chugging riffs and a matching pounding rhythm set the pace for Mona’s growls n screams on songs like ‘Blood Warrior’, ‘Gallow Hill’ and ‘No Salvation’. Although still an uncommon phenomena, Beck’s style lends further weight to female DM given that while being aggressive they are somewhat cleaner than her male counterparts allowing for wider audience appreciation of the lyrics et al. Falk’s guitar work has also grown and now includes subtle melodic death harmonies but this nonetheless remains primarily aggro metal to make your ears bleed!